As technology advances and consumer demand evolves, companies and products quickly can be left behind. Too many organizations are focused on developing, launching and loading new technologies and features to existing products while ignoring the possibility of new solutions that actually make life easy for consumers 

Instead, Jack’s approach is one of transformation – innovation that can be commercialized and drive long-term results. It is a strategy that helped 3M to being named a “Most Innovative Company,” in 2005 and Jack earning the name “Mr. Post-It Notes.” 


It takes more than creativity to stay ahead of the curve. It takes a culture that prioritizes listening and innovation, and harnesses the power of people who have different ways of thinking. In 2003, Jack and his colleagues noticed several distinct trends.

Remote Work Technology

The Sars outbreak was forcing employees to work remotely, but the technology available did not ease the burden of stakeholder engagement. 

Digital Notetaking

Laptops, Blackberries and other mobile technology were replacing Post-It Notes. Consumers were opting for digital reminders and notes in lieu of leaving a sticky note on a colleague’s door or desk. 

Digital Photography

Digital photography was on the rise, but that meant photos were stuck on the phone and hard to display and share. 

While these observations could have signaled a declining market segment for 3M Post-it Notes business, Jack and the leadership team saw opportunities.


During Jack’s tenure at 3M, he led the creation and commercialization of true innovations, including 11 patents, across several industries. Each one was inspired by consumer insights – not just in the form of what consumers were telling 3M, but the behavior that was observed.

As President of the office supplies division at 3M, Jack accelerated the pace at which new products were introduced.

In response to the need for teleworking capabilities during the Sars outbreak of 2003, 3M launched Digital Wall Display, giving executives and managers a new way to engage with colleagues, customers and suppliers around the world.

After observing consumers scrolling through their phones trying to find a photo to share with colleagues, 3M re-invented the notion of Post-Its, creating a photo paper with adhesive backing that allowed photos to be hung on the wall without need for a frame.

post it wall


Over the course of the next two years, Jack would go on to reorganize his divisions marketing efforts to focus on selling to women. By 2005, 3M hosted the top attended stand at the United Stationers’ Vision show. More than 2,000 dealers in attendance lined up to see the latest products, colors, and designs being rolled out.

Over the course of 2 years, Jack’s marketing efforts resulted in
dealers in attendance during the United Stationers’ Vision show.

Jack’s continued effort resulted in

  • Helping 3M being listed as #3 on BusinessWeek’s “Most Innovative Company” list in 2006

  • Office Products International to credit him for rekindling “the spirit of innovation that was 3M” in June 2007

Creativity versus Innovation 

Creativity is the generation of new ideas. While valuable, these concepts cannot always be marketed or commercialized. Innovation, on the other hand, is driven by consumer needs, desires, and demands. Ultimately it is a differentiator that influences consumer behavior and drives profitable, revenue. 

Here, Truong talks about how Electrolux uses in-home consumer research and data analytics to conceive new products, and how targeted innovation often trumps mere creativity. […]

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creative brain in black and whitecolourful brain drawing